26 Mar 2018

Beginner’s Guide to Minifying CSS, HTML, and JS

Websites have been making use of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript or JS for years. Unfortunately, the more of this code you add to your website, the slower that a website can be. That’s why programmers and web designers need to practice minification. This programming model involves analyzing the text of a website in order to reduce each page’s file size. The smaller the file is, the faster it will load for the user.

How Does It Work?
When a web developer practices minification, they follow three simple steps:

  • The CSS or JS file is created. The developer creating it codes the file using good programming practices, including leaving blank spaces that make it easier to read, inserting comments where necessary, and more.

  • Next, the developer uses several of the different minification techniques to optimize the file. This removes many of the things that make it easier to read, but makes the file size smaller.

  • Finally, this minified page is uploaded to the server. When someone loads the website, it’s this minified page that is retrieved. This makes the page load much quicker and use less bandwidth.

The user who loads these minified pages has no need to view any of the source code at all. To them, it doesn’t matter how readable the HTML, CSS, or JS is. If developers need to make changes later, they can modify the original file and then simply minify it again before uploading it.

Techniques to Minify a Webpage
There are three different techniques developers use to minify webpages. Each of these techniques aims to minify a particular type of coding (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript).
HTML minification can easily be done using Google’s PageSpeed Insights extension for Chrome. It actually has a command to minify HTML. All a developer needs to do is click that button to minify the HTML code of a webpage.
To minify CSS, developers need to install a CSS minifier tool. There are a number of these tools out there, many of which are free.
Finally, Google has another tool that developers can use to minify the JavaScript of a webpage file. This tool, called the Closure Compiler, is designed to make the JS of a file more efficient, minifying the code.

 Why Minify Webpages?
The biggest benefit to minification is that webpages load faster. This actually leads to a few other benefits. Since the pages are smaller, businesses don’t need to use as much bandwidth to transfer them to users. This results in lower bandwidth fees. For companies that have monthly bandwidth caps, there’s also less of a chance of exceeding that cap.
By minifying webpage code, you can reduce the server resources needed, improving load time and making it more likely that visitors will stay on your website longer. For those who have eCommerce websites, that can result in more sales.
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